The Kremlin mass media outlets and Z-oriented Telegram channels are spreading a fake news story, allegedly created by the American TV channel MSNBC. The video shows the American actor Danny Trejo, famous for his role in Machete, who spoke about his trip to Ukraine amid the war in an interview with TMZ Live. Trejo allegedly stated that the Office of the President of Ukraine offered him $150,000 for his visit and showing support for the Ukrainian people. Moreover, the actor was allegedly expected to receive only $100,000 and pay a kickback of $50,000 to the management of the President’s Office.
The video also mentions that, according to Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ, all Hollywood celebrities visiting Ukraine amid the war, including Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, received money for their trips and paid $700,000 in kickbacks to the management of the President’s Office.
This is another Russian fake. There is no such ‘news story’, either on the website of MSNBC or the TV channel’s social media pages. There was no interview with Danny Trejo on the website of TMZ as well. The latest news mentioning the actor were released by TMZ in 2023 and related to his volunteer activities.
The fake clip was compiled from several videos and photographs, which can be found on the web.
The footage, passed off as Danny Trejo’s interview with TMZ, was taken from the actor’s real interview with Kristine Leahy on the YouTube channel Fair Game. The video was released in early 2019, i.e. more than three years before the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and a few months before the presidential elections, which had been won by Volodymyr Zelensky.
Both videos show the same white sofa, books, vases on a shelf, and a fireplace. Danny Trejo wears the same blue suit and black shoes, and a ponytail hairdo.
The so-called interviewers are real TMZ Live presenters. However, in the original video, they do not interview anyone but discuss the fact that the famous American singer Taylor Swift will be introducing her partner, the American football player Travis Kelce, to her parents.
The part of the video, where Harvey Levin allegedly says that Hollywood celebrities supported Ukraine for money and even paid kickbacks for that, is actually a video clip of the American producer’s story about O.J. Simpson.
In order to produce the fake video, Russian propagandists also used stock photos with Danny Trejo and the video recordings of Volodymyr Zelensky’s meetings with Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, which can easily be found on the web.
Meanwhile, Danny Trejo has not visited Ukraine since the Russian full-scale invasion started and has not expressed any desire to do so. In early March 2022, he recorded a video message in support of the Ukrainian people.
Earlier, Russian propagandists also fabricated a fake video address to President Zelensky by American actress Priscilla Presley.